“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.”
Albertine was the name of the mysterious and maddening love interest in Marcel’s magnum opus, Remembrance of Things Past. Albertine is also the name of a sparkly new bookstore that has just flung its doors open to America. It’s housed in a refurbished mansion, the Stanford White townhouse, on Fifth Avenue and 79th Street — and I can’t wait to check it out! It looks absolutely gorgeous: gleaming wooden floors, plush lipstick-red leather and emerald-clad armchairs and settees, and a stunning blue-and-gold ceiling that’s starry and celestial: Just looking at it promises to be a levitating experience.
Then there are the bookcases and lustrously polished tables filled with an array of French and American books. All in all, it’s a “sumptuous, swaddled nest where book lovers can roost.” The mastermind behind the store, Antonin Baudry, is the cultural counselor for the French Embassy. As he described Albertine, “This is not intended as a retail place. It’s more like a grand private library…” I’m in!
Along with books and nesting book lovers, Albertine has grand ambitions as a salon — a place where writers, readers, and assorted experts can come together and debate issues of the day: politics, economics, art, film.
To mark its grand opening, the bookstore is hosting “Festival Albertine” — a 6-day celebration of ideas (October 14 – 19). It’s a sold-out affair, but all the chats will be live-streamed on the Internet and I plan to listen to a few. If you’re curious, visit: albertine.com. And write on!